Please listen to cries of North Rift maize farmers


Farmers dry maize near the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) started buying maize from farmers on Wednesday this week. The announcement should have come as good news to the farmers especially in the high-yield regions of the North Rift, but there are reservations about the price that has been offered.

NCPB has offered to buy a 50-kilogramme bag of maize at Sh1,305 but farmers would have none of that. Their argument is that the cost of production has skyrocketed, especially after the cost of fuel per litre kept going up for months and drove prices of fertiliser and other farm implements through the roof.

Viewed against that, the farmers say they stand to make huge losses. They cannot be faulted. Besides, some of the farmers had to contend with the Fall Army worm invasion early this year as well as the menace of desert locusts.

For years now, farmers have always been up in arms against NCPB for offering them low price every harvesting season. In the ensuing standoffs, middlemen have always stepped in to milk the situation to their advantage.

Unfortunately, the loser has always been the farmer. It is about time the situation changed and we allowed farmers to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Right now, 29 out of the 47 counties are drought-stricken and more than two million Kenyans face serious food shortages.

The implication is simple; that our food security is threatened and the government needs to buy all the grain it can get in keeping with one of the Big Four Agenda goals; food security. This cannot be realised unless the farmers are motivated and given reason to toil more on their farms.

It is important to cushion farmers against production losses. For this reason, the farmers’ proposal that the government should buy a 90-kilogramme bag of maize at Sh3,000 should be considered.

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